Feline cancer is one of the serious conditions that cat owners have to be cautious about. This is a condition that spreads across the body and is fatal in most cases. Rapid spread of the disease leaves little leeway for the treatment to be effective, therefore chances of recovery are low. This process of spreading, called metastasis is one of the primary reasons behind early death from cancer.
The skin is the largest organ in the body. It is also the most common organ that can develop carcinoma. The name skin cancer is a general classification of different types of tumors that include any uncontrolled growth of cells in these areas:
- The skin
- Skin glands
- Hair follicles
- Supportive fat and connective tissues
Metastasis that occurs in the skin as a result of cancer in other parts of the body is not termed as skin cancer because it originates elsewhere. Skin cancer in dogs is less likely to be malignant than in cats. Even in cats, skin cancer is most likely to be seen in older cats between 6 to 14 years of age. At this time, these are the known causes behind skin cancer:
- Light or white color of the skin
- Excessive exposure to sunlight
- Feline immunodeficiency virus (FIV)
Skin cancers appear mostly as lumps under the skin or as lesions that do not heal. This often leads to abnormal behaviors like scratching or chewing the affected area. Squamous cell cancer, a type of skin cancer, often leads to redness of the area and a crusty skin.
Detection of skin cancer is relatively easier as compared to other cancers because the symptoms are easily visible. For example, looking for the symptoms of liver cancer in dogs and cats, is a tedious process of keen observation to identify multiple signs.
Regular examination needs to be made of your cat’s skin to be able to notice certain signs, such as:
- Tumors or lumps under the skin
- Blemishes, scaly areas or changes in color
- Progress of above changes noticed earlier
- Color changes and irregular areas in the cat’s eyelids, lips and the mouth’s interior
An occasional massage and grooming with a fine comb helps to catch the abnormality in a timely manner. Diagnosis involves laboratory examinations of the following:
- A needle aspiration of the tumor
- A piece removed from the tumor
- Blood and urine tests
- X-Rays to establish if metastasis has occurred
If your cat is white in color or has a white nose and ears, you can minimize the risk by protecting the cat from sunlight. You can also ask your veterinarian about the use of sunscreens on light colored ear tips or patches of white on its coat.